NO matter where you are in Scotland, you are never far from a beauty spot or tourist magnet, with attractions countrywide that are famed around the world, from the castles of Edinburgh and Stirling, to the lochs of Lomond and Ness.

But away from these stunning, iconic sights, symbols of the country that are of course worth taking the time to take in and explore if you have not done so already, there are plenty of alternative attractions that are off the beaten tourist track.

Some of our suggestions are harder to reach than others, but the scenery will make ticking them off your bucket list all the more worthwhile. So as summer sets, and while hundreds of thousands flood into Edinburgh to enjoy the festivals, there is plenty of time to take in a few unusual destinations and sights.

The Bridge to Nowhere, Dunbar

The trick with this quirky, picturesque spot is to visit at the right time – high tide. When the water rises, it becomes clear why the Belhaven Bridge in Dunbar gets its other name of “the Bridge to Nowhere”. As the sea rises, it looks as though it is simply a little bridge in a crossing of water, leading to nowhere; more a sculpture rather than a structure with intended purpose. However, at low tide, as the water recedes, the metal footbridge, with its concrete pillars and steps, shows why it is in place, serving as a bridge over the Biel Water to the beach beyond. The bridge is situated between the John Muir Country Park and the Winterfield Golf Club in the town of Dunbar – famed as the birthplace of famous naturalist John Muir – on the North Sea coast in East Lothian. To the right of Belhaven Bay is a car park that can be reached by road via the A1087, which connects to the A1.

Dinosaur footprints, Isle of Skye

From its medieval castles to its rugged mountain range, Skye is hardly short on reasons to visit, but one is bigger than all of the others put together. It involves the footprints of a group of meat-eating Megalosaurus dinosaurs who stomped through the mud beside the sea at An Corran beach by Staffin around 166 million years ago. The footprints were only discovered 20 years ago when a storm washed away the sand covering them and if you can tear your gaze from the surrounding scenery, the footprints scattered across the rocks are a sight to behold. The most opportune time to see them is at mid-tide, experts say, and take your time to discover them as they are often covered by sand and seaweed. Staffin Dinosaur Museum can organise tours offering more insight into species identified in the area, including Stegosaurus and Ceolophysis. To reach the spot, visitors can park at the beach and take a short walk down the slipway to find these mega prints.

Still, the Snow Roads

Still is situated at a lay-by along the Snow Roads Scenic Route, a 90-mile journey from Blairgowrie to Grantown-on-Spey that traverses the highest public road in the UK and takes travellers through the varying landscapes of the Cairngorms. The art installation allows those who stop to step into the box structure with its mirrored walls and look out over Tomintoul, with the views also reflected inside. This is a sculpture that offers a new way of seeing Scotland as you explore the Cairngorms National Park. It is in fact one of three Scenic Route Installations along the road to provide prompts to travellers to stop and explore the area, with a “photo-post” at each installation to capture the changes in the land and your own view of the scenery framed in a new way of which you too are a part.

Tinkers’ Heart, Loch Fyne

This beguiling heart arrangement of quartz stones – also known as Gypsy’s Heart or Gypsy’s Wedding Heart – is a monument to Scotland’s historic traveller community, created on a quiet hillside overlooking Loch Fyne in Argyll. Said to be the country’s only permanent monument to the indigenous group, it is not known for certain when it was put in place, but travellers say the tribute was made in honour of the gypsies who fought and died in the Jacobite rising in 1745. Over the years, the heart has become a central meeting point for the community countrywide and a focal point of celebrations, with many travellers journeying to the heart to marry, bless their babies, or remember their lost loved ones. As its concept suggests, it is a place of love and peace, so cherished that when it was removed during roadworks in the 1920s, locals protested and forced its reinstatement. The heart is set in a field close to the A815 junction at Cairndow.

The Balmoral Pyramid/Prince Albert’s Cairn

The Queen is currently enjoying her annual holiday at her Scottish summer retreat of Balmoral Castle, but when the royal family is not in residence, the property is open to the public for guided tours and a huge tourist draw. However, there is another sight to see amid the beauty of Royal Deeside that will come as a surprise to the uninformed – a pyramid, slap bang in the heart of the breathtaking Cairngorms. The Balmoral Pyramid – also known as Prince Albert’s Cairn – was built on the orders of Queen Victoria in 1862 following her beloved husband’s death the year before. The striking 41ft x 41ft granite structure offers an aptly majestic view of the rolling Aberdeenshire landscape and symbolises love, with an inscription from Victoria to her husband at the base. It happens to be the most spectacular of a clutch of cairns on the estate, built to mark the marriages of Victoria’s children, including Prince Albert Edward, Princess Helena and Princess Alice. The direct route to the pyramid is around 30 minutes long, but it involves a steep climb on a woodland path from the car park close to Crathie Tourist Information Centre just off the A93.

Bullough Mausoleum, Rhum

No visit to the Small Isles is complete without witnessing the striking sight of the Bullough Mausoleum at Harris on the west coast of Rhum. The windswept edge of a small Scots island is the last place one might expect to find an enormous Grecian-style temple-like structure, but this Doric monument of polished sandstone sits here in dramatic isolation. The reason for its existence stretches back into the 19th century when Rhum was purchased by Lancashire industrialist, John Bullough, in 1888 as a sporting estate. After his death, his son Sir George Bullough, was discontent with his father’s initial tomb on the island and had it replaced with this giant mausoleum, with its 18 huge sandstone pillars. It is now home to the remains of the father and son and also to Sir George’s widow. It is no mean feat to reach Harris, requiring a long 15 mile trek along a track from Kinloch, but those who undertake the journey reach what has been described as “one of the most surprising monuments in all the inner isles”.

The Local Hero telephone box, Pennan

In itself, the traditional red phone box has become a pleasing sight to anyone travelling around the country, such is its scarcity now that so many of the structures have been taken out of operation. But this beauty in the small harbour village of Pennan on the Aberdeenshire coast is not just your average attraction. Pennan was used as the setting for the fictional village of Ferness in the classic 1983 movie, Local Hero, written and directed by Bill Forsyth and starring Burt Lancaster, Peter Riegert, Peter Capaldi and Denis Lawson. The phone box featured heavily in the film, with Riegert’s character – sent to the Highlands to secure land for an oil refinery – using it to report back to his boss in the US. Movie fans travel from all over to get a snap at the famous phone box that just last year was under threat. BT had proposed disconnecting it from its network, but a petition urging it to be saved was signed by hundreds from around the world. Pennan itself is picture-postcard pretty so a trip to the call box is a winner all-round.

Duke of Wellington statue, Glasgow

If you are from Scotland’s largest city, the equestrian statue of Arthur Wellesley, the first Duke of Wellington, is part of the backdrop to your life. Located outside the Royal Exchange, now known as the Gallery of Modern Art, this is one of Glasgow’s most iconic landmarks and is famed for frequently sporting a traffic cone – often not only on the duke but on his horse, Copenhagen, too, which he famously rode at the Battle of Waterloo. Sculpted by Italian artist Carlo Marochetti, the statue dates to 1844, and was funded by public subscription to mark the successful end in 1815 of the long French Revolutionary Wars and the Napoleonic Wars. The statue is almost representative of how the city is feeling – in March, in a protest against Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, for example, the statue was fitted with a cone decorated with the colours of the Ukrainian flag. A visit to the duke and Copenhagen offers a visceral sense of the rhythm of the city.

Bobby’s Bus Shelter, Unst

As any fan of the new series of BBC Scotland drama Shetland will testify, there are plenty of reasons to visit the Shetland Islands to take in some of the spectacular scenery on the programme in person. But there is another tourist draw on Shetland that proves appealing to travellers, and it is a surprising one at that – a bus shelter. Bobby’s Bus Shelter has, in fact, become a must-see for visitors to Shetland’s most northerly island of Unst, and is easily one of the area’s most photographed spots. It was named in honour of a local youngster, Bobby MacAulay, who used to shelter inside waiting for the bus to school and who campaigned in 1996 – when he was just seven years old – to save the structure amid plans to remove it. The shelter was then furnished with home comforts, including a microwave, carpet, books and a sofa, with the interior revamped frequently and often incorporating new themes, such as the Queen’s Jubilee. Located on the main road across Unst – the A968 – between Belmont and Haroldswick, it is a huge hit on social media and a fun place to stop.

Corrievreckan Whirlpool, between the islands of Jura and Scarba, Argyll & Bute

This extremely unusual phenomenon requires a boat trip to witness the churning water, but those who make the journey rate watching the maelstrom in action as one of the most amazing experiences. Situated off the west coast, between the isles of Jura and Scarba, it is one of the largest permanent whirlpools on Earth and is also one of the most dangerous stretches of water around the British Isles. It is even reported that at certain times, the thundering roar from the whirlpool is so loud it can be heard miles away. A number of tour operators offer boat trips from local harbours to the whirlpool and its surrounding waters, known as the Gulf of Corryvreckan. And as well as seeing the wonder of the whirlpool itself, there are plenty of beguiling sights along the way, from sea eagles and porpoises, to golden eagles and dolphins.